Pope Francis’ China Problem

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
China-watchers, friends of Tibet, and admirers of Pope Francis were amazed and disappointed last week when the Pope announced he would not be meeting the Dalai Lama during the Tibetan leader’s visit to Rome. The Dalai Lama was there with other...

Dalai Lama Concedes He May Be the Last

BBC
BBC
Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has said he realizes that he may be the last to hold the title. But he told the BBC it would be better that the centuries-old tradition ceased "at the time of a popular Dalai Lama"...

Pope Francis Denies Dalai Lama an Audience Because of China Concerns

Reuters
Guardian
The Dalai Lama, in Rome for a meeting of Nobel peace prize winners, told Italian media he had approached the Vatican about a meeting but was told it could create inconveniences.

China Arrests 1,000 Members of Banned Religious Cult 'Eastern Lightning'

Katie Hunt
CNN
State news agency Xinhua said that the group, which Beijing regards as a dangerous doomsday cult, cheated people, illegally collected money and "violated the law under the guise of religion."...

Media

08.07.14

Beards and Muslim Headscarves Banned From Buses In One Xinjiang City

A city in China’s remote western Xinjiang region has temporarily banned men with beards and women with Muslim headscarves from taking public buses. The extreme security measure—to be implemented for the duration of a sports competition slated to...

22 Attackers Shot Dead in Xinjiang Violence as Extremists Wielding Axes Targeted Civilians

South China Morning Post
Attack on government office and police station follows series of violent incidents in restive province.

Deadly McDonald’s Attack Highlights Fears About Cults in China

Julie Makinen
Los Angeles Times
The perpetrators were six members of a religious cult, including a middle-age man, his two grown daughters and his 12-year-old son, who became angry when refused a phone number.

China Denies Declaring War on Christians After Mega-Church is Razed

Tom Phillips
Telegraph
Communist Party officials have rejected claims they have launched an orchestrated campaign to slow the spread of Christianity in China, after the razing of a church in a city known as the "Jerusalem of the East"...

Chinese Atheists? What the Pew Survey Gets Wrong

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Earlier this month, I came across a fascinating opinion survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. The report asked people in forty countries whether belief in God is necessary for morality. Mostly, the results aren’t surprising...

The Brave Catholics of China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Like most pilgrimage sites in China, the shrine in the village of Cave Gulley in Shanxi province is located partway up a mountain, reachable by steep stairs that are meant to shift worshipers’ attention from the world below to heaven above...

China’s Way to Happiness

Ian Johnson
New York Review of Books
The return of collective religious traditions is part of Chinese people's search for meaning and stability...

China’s Way to Happiness

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Richard Madsen is one of the modern-day founders of the study of Chinese religion. A professor at the University of California San Diego, the seventy-three-year-old’s works include Morality and Power in a Chinese Village, China and the American...

In Pictures: Chinese New Year Around the World

BBC
A Chinese folk artist performs at the opening ceremony of the Spring Festival Temple Fair in Beijing, one of millions of people around the world celebrating ahead of Chinese, or Lunar, New Year.

China’s Kaifeng Jews Rediscover Their Heritage

Tiffanie Wen
Daily Beast
In Kaifeng, where Sephardic Jews from the Silk Road settled in the 12th century, their descendants are rediscovering long-last religious practices and petitioning Israel for recognition.

Will China's New Leaders Change Tibet policy?

Martin Patience
BBC
Xi Zhongxun, father of China's new president, Xi Jinping, was a former leader known for a more conciliatory approach to Tibetans...

U.S. Rights Official Faults China on Tibetan Suppression

Nick Cumming-Bruce
New York Times
Navi Pillay says she's disturbed by reports of detentions, disappearances and the excessive use of force...

Sinica Podcast

06.08.12

Morally Adrift?

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
It’s easy to get depressed about China’s apparent drift toward amorality: the kind of pervasive screw-your-neighbor approach to getting ahead (or even just getting by) that seems increasingly common on the mainland. The news is full of horrific...

Reports

05.23.12

Amnesty Internation Annual Report—China 

Amnesty International
Amnesty International surveys the landscape of human rights in China during 2011 and finds that China’s economic strength during the global financial crisis increased the country’s leverage in the domain of global human rights—mostly for the worse...

Books

04.24.12

The I-Ching

Richard J. Smith
The I Ching originated in China as a divination manual more than three thousand years ago. In 136 BCE the emperor declared it a Confucian classic, and in the centuries that followed, this work had a profound influence on the philosophy, religion, art, literature, politics, science, technology, and medicine of various cultures throughout East Asia. Jesuit missionaries brought knowledge of the I Ching to Europe in the seventeenth century, and the American counterculture embraced it in the 1960s. Here Richard Smith tells the extraordinary story of how this cryptic and once obscure book became one of the most widely read and extensively analyzed texts in all of world literature.In this concise history, Smith traces the evolution of the I Ching in China and throughout the world, explaining its complex structure, its manifold uses in different cultures, and its enduring appeal. He shows how the indigenous beliefs and customs of Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Tibet "domesticated" the text, and he reflects on whether this Chinese classic can be compared to religious books such as the Bible or the Qur'an. Smith also looks at how the I Ching came to be published in dozens of languages, providing insight and inspiration to millions worldwide--including ardent admirers in the West such as Leibniz, Carl Jung, Philip K. Dick, Allen Ginsberg, Hermann Hesse, Bob Dylan, Jorge Luis Borges, and I. M. Pei. Smith offers an unparalleled biography of the most revered book in China's entire cultural tradition, and he shows us how this enigmatic ancient classic has become a truly global phenomenon.  —Princeton University Press

China Gets Religion!

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
This autumn, China has been marking the one hundredth anniversary of the collapse of its last imperial dynasty, the Qing, with a series of grand celebrations. The government has released an epic film showing how the revolution of 1911 prepared the...

Books

04.15.10

Superstitious Regimes

Rebecca Nedostup
We live in a world shaped by secularism—the separation of numinous power from political authority and religion from the political, social, and economic realms of public life. Not only has progress toward modernity often been equated with secularization, but when religion is admitted into modernity, it has been distinguished from superstition. That such ideas are continually contested does not undercut their extraordinary influence.These divisions underpin this investigation of the role of religion in the construction of modernity and political power during the Nanjing Decade (1927–1937) of Nationalist rule in China. This book explores the modern recategorization of religious practices and people and examines how state power affected the religious lives and physical order of local communities. It also looks at how politicians conceived of their own ritual role in an era when authority was meant to derive from popular sovereignty. The claims of secular nationalism and mobilizational politics prompted the Nationalists to conceive of the world of religious association as a dangerous realm of “superstition” that would destroy the nation. This is the first “superstitious regime” of the book’s title. It also convinced them that national feeling and faith in the party-state would replace those ties—the second “superstitious regime.” —Harvard University Press{chop}

Books

03.01.10

Spectacle and Sacrifice

David Johnson
This book is about the ritual world of a group of rural settlements in Shanxi province in pre-1949 North China. Temple festivals, with their giant processions, elaborate rituals, and operas, were the most important influence on the symbolic universe of ordinary villagers and demonstrate their remarkable capacity for religious and artistic creation. The great festivals described in this book were their supreme collective achievements and were carried out virtually without assistance from local officials or educated elites, clerical or lay. Chinese culture was a performance culture, and ritual was the highest form of performance. Village ritual life everywhere in pre-revolutionary China was complex, conservative, and extraordinarily diverse. Festivals and their associated rituals and operas provided the emotional and intellectual materials out of which ordinary people constructed their ideas about the world of men and the realm of the gods. It is, David Johnson argues, impossible to form an adequate idea of traditional Chinese society without a thorough understanding of village ritual. Newly discovered liturgical manuscripts allow him to reconstruct North Chinese temple festivals in unprecedented detail and prove that they are sharply different from the Daoist- and Buddhist-based communal rituals of South China.  —Harvard University Press

The Amazing Wanderer

Christian Caryl from New York Review of Books
1.I could tell you a lot of potentially useful things about Colin Thubron’s latest travel memoir—for example, that he’s a gifted linguist, a dogged reporter, and an elegant writer. For a start, though, perhaps it’s enough to point out that his shoes...